Rocket fire from Gaza forced an Air Canada flight to circle Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport Friday briefly before landing safely.
Hamas’ military arm confirmed via Twitter that it had fired three M75 missiles at the airport around 11:45 a.m. local time, just as Air Canada flight 84 was preparing to land.
An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed to Al Jazeera that rockets were fired towards the airport from the Gaza Strip.
“Five miles prior to landing at Tel Aviv airport this morning (July 25), our flight AC84 originating from Toronto was advised by Israeli Air Traffic Control (ATC) to perform a standard go-around until airspace conditions could be confirmed as safe for landing,” Air Canada spokesperson Isabelle Arthur told The CJN Friday morning.
“Our pilots altered course following ATC’s instructions and landed 10 minutes later safely, without incident, at 12:07 local [time],” Arthur added.
According to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, a go-around “is a safe, standard aircraft manoeuvre which simply discontinues an approach to landing. Go-arounds ensure passengers and aircraft are not placed in potentially dangerous situations.”
The return flight, AC85 to Toronto, departed at 2 p.m .Israel time.
Air Canada’s regularly scheduled flight on Friday night from Toronto to Tel Aviv will depart “as scheduled,” Arthur noted.
“The safety of our passengers and crew is our first priority and we will continue to monitor developments very closely.”
The airline resumed operations to Israel Thursday after cancelling flights on two consecutive days earlier this week.
Friday’s plane was a 349-seat Boeing 777 airliner, which has 138 more seats than the route’s usual 211-seat 767 aircraft, in order to accommodate passengers affected by recent cancellations.
Air Canada’s resumption of flights to Israel came following the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s decision Wednesday night to lift its ban on flights to Israel after reviewing Israeli measures to keep aircraft safe from rockets.
U.S.President Barack Obama said the Federal Aviation Administration ban on Israeli flights was based purely on safety considerations.
“The initial ban that was imposed by the FAA was based on Israel needing to show us that in fact it was safe for commercial airlines to fly in,” Obama said Thursday in an interview with CNBC.
“They worked through a checklist of concerns and mitigation measures that needed to be taken. Having completed those and convinced the FAA we moved forward,” he said. “And by the way the European governments in terms of regulating their airlines did the exact same thing.”
El Al flights from Toronto to Israel remain unaffected.
With files from JTA